Walter ‘Wally’ Donaldson, a longtime retired sports reporter, Oshawa Generals radio color commentator, and local sports booster, has died following a battle with colon cancer. Donaldson, 70, died on June 24th.
Wally, as he was commonly known, was born and raised in Ajax, attended Ajax High School and Ryerson University for journalism, and then worked for the Oshawa Times as a sports reporter for about two decades covering local sports. His career with the Times newspaper did not end until the newspaper closed in 1994 after a bitter labor dispute.
He also worked for Rockbrune Movers for more than two decades, but also continued to work occasionally for local media outlets such as the former Durham Post and worked for the Oshawa Express for a while.
He was also the color commentator for the Oshawa Generals and is fondly remembered by television partner and play partner Dave Gilbert for his warm personality and funny comments.
“We had a great time (together),” Gilbert said on Friday, June 25, just one day after the news of Donaldson’s death.
“Rick Cornacchia, the General’s coach at the time, thought Wally had no idea about hockey,” Gilbert recalled. “He told me, ‘What the hell did your partner say’ because Rick liked Wally,” Gilbert said. He recalled a time when the team was beaten up at the game against the Wolves in Sudbury and Cornacchia tried to push the team on the bus to go home.
“Wally had to pack this big old computer that they used to use, so I packed my radio gear and went to the bus to buy some time,” Gilbert said.
“Cornacchia was angry because they lost: ‘Where is your partner?’ and I said, “He’s coming,” and Wally’s finally here, and Cornacchia said, “Where the hell have you been?” and Wally says ‘Well, I’m not Superman!’ Cornacchia lost it with laughter. He didn’t want to laugh after a heavy loss, but it was so strange to see Wally standing there because his hair was all tousled, he had a briefcase under his arm, a large computer, he was panting … it was funny. “
“He was also locked out of the booth in Sudbury. There was a radio booth and a pressurized booth in Sudbury. He went to the pressurized booth next door in Sudbury to get pizza and there was a pane of glass separating us. He locked himself out of the cabin and missed the start of his period. So I said over the air, ‘It seems like Wally has locked himself out of the booth’ and I was going to say, ‘Those of you who want him back in call this number, those of you who don’t call to this number … “I let him in again when I was advertised. But since then he has accused me of locking him out! “
Mike Laing, who grew up with Donaldson in Ajax, played junior and senior hockey and later owned local hockey teams, had known Donaldson for over 60 years. He has fond memories of his longtime friend.
“He was extremely loyal. He was a huge sports fan of Ajax, a real sports fan. When I owned the Bowmanville Eagles and I was hosting special events and I needed an announcer for a game, I called Wally and he did it. He would never say no, ”said Laing.
“There was no greater master of local sport in the Durham area than Wally Donaldson,” said Roger Lajoie, former sports writer for the Oshawa Times and Oshawa This Week. “Nobody had a bigger heart. He was a unique personality who always smiled and I had the privilege of calling him a friend and colleague for many decades. My heart breaks for his many friends and family smiles of our “Chum” will always be remembered. “
A celebration of life is slated for August when the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted. A private family service is held at the Mount Lawn Funeral Home in Whitby.